Queso Fundido with Salsa Verde
Any combination of the cheeses or herbs below can be found in queso fundido variations throughout Mexico. Explore different combinations to find your favourite. If you have a good-quality molcajete—a volcanic-rock mortar or bowl—it will keep the cheese hot and melted. However, a heavy non-stick or cast iron pan that is all metal and can go in the oven is almost as good. A small porcelain casserole dish or large ramekin will work, too. In any case, check that the volume of cheese matches the size of the dish before starting.
- Yield: Serves 4 as a starter
450 g tomatillos
½ small white onion
1 serrano pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
2 to 3 cups mozzarella, soft manchego or Edam
½ cup Gruyère or Emmenthal (or raclette, if you want something milder)
2 tbsp of basil, oregano or thyme
½ cup salsa verde
Few sprigs of cilantro
Tortillas or chips
Peel tomatillos, then cut in half. Cut serrano pepper in half, and quarter onion. Place all ingredients in a saucepan and top with just enough water to cover. Place a lid on saucepan, bring to a boil, then remove from heat, leaving covered for a few minutes to allow tomatillos to finish settling and the temperature to cool off a little. Blend everything together until smooth and check the seasoning. Add a little more salt if necessary. Set aside.
1. Coarsely grate cheese, finely chop herbs and mix all together in a bowl. If using a molcajete or cast iron dish, place it on a small oven-safe tray and preheat at 400°F for at least 15 minutes. If using a porcelain or ceramic ramekin there is no need to preheat.
2. Transfer cheese mixture into baking dish and place in 400°F oven for 10 minutes. Carefully remove from oven and bring outside edges into the centre with a spoon to make sure cheese melts evenly. Place back in oven. Check every 5 minutes and mix with a spoon again when necessary. It will be done when centre feels very soft and top begins to take on a nice golden-brown colour.
3. While cheese is in oven, heat up the salsa verde. Remove cheese from oven carefully and place on a heat-safe pad. Pour hot salsa verde over top of cheese and add a few sprigs of cilantro. Serve with tortillas or chips right away; it will not stay melted long enough to wait on anyone and cheese does not like to be re-melted!